Friday, August 18, 2017

Bar Association Moves on CJ Benjamin

Saturday, July 29, 2017, 19:21
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1Thursday, 27 July 2017 The Bar Association of Belize has moved against the Chief Justice of Belize, Hon. Kenneth Benjamin over outstanding Supreme Court judgments he has failed to deliver in reasonable time. It was reported last week that at its Annual General Meeting on Friday, the Bar would have voted on the issue which is a matter of grave concern. High on their leaked agenda was the over two dozen outstanding judgments. The backlog is between two and five years or more but it appears that the two sides have come to an agreement that will see the CJ work feverishly to deliver those judgments by a certain deadline of some 90 days. That was one of the less dramatic course of actions on the table at the Association’s AGM. Other proposals on the table included asking for the head of the Supreme Court’s voluntary resignation or calling for his removal. The Bar appears to have grown weary especially since, last year, the Chief Justice is said to have asked for precisely the same thing: time to catch up with the late judgments when the Bar first brought their concern to his attention. They insist that “at the very least, there is a presumption of a breach of the Constitutional right of the litigants to a fair hearing within a reasonable time.” After all, they especially are reminded that “justice delayed is justice denied.” As to the question of how it will work out this time around, only time will tell since 90 days would mean producing one judgment every three days and there is apprehension that this could lead to questionable decisions made in haste. It is a serious situation for the head of the judiciary to be called out in this manner by the Bar and they, while upset that the media got its hands on internal documents have not hesitated to underscore the importance of the issue at hand. In a release on Monday, the Bar wrote that it is “duty bound to do all within its statutory powers to seek the delivery of those judgments” and adds that it intends to work closely with the Judiciary while acknowledging “that the proper and efficient administration of justice must be the mutual desire of both the Bar and the Judiciary.” For now, it appears that the Chief Justice’s appointment will not come under review as a result of this difference but according to the Attorney General, Michael Peyrefitte, he will meet with both sides to ensure that a significant number of sound judgments are produced within the set time frame.
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